Centre for Turkey Studies and Politics Exposed (LMU) Joint Public Forum



‘What the eye doesn’t see: a national discourse on urban intervention, and Istanbul’s changing landscape’

26 February 2013

London Metropolitan University

Speakers: Atakan Guven and Omer Cavusoglu

Atakan Guven has over ten years of experience working in the urban policy and intervention field in the UK and the USA. Currently he works as Associate at Space Syntax Ltd, leading on the regional master plan for Jeddah and Mecca.  Previously, he worked at LSE Cities, London School of Economics where he managed a research project comparing the South East of England to the Randstad region of the Netherlands. A native Londoner, being half Turkish, he has lived in Istanbul and Bursa. Currently he is an Honorary Research Associate at UCL’s Bartlett School.

Omer Cavusoglu is a researcher and a project coordinator at LSE Cities, London School of Economics and Political Science. Native of Istanbul, he has been living in London for the past 5 years, working on research and publication projects, whilst focusing his personal interest on issues of identity, integration, belonging, urban survival.


The Centre for Turkey Studies in partnership with Politics Exposed (LMU) organised a public forum about the political reflections of urban planning models in Turkey, particularly Istanbul’s. The event began with a brief speech by Huseyin Gunduzler of Politics Exposed LMU. The keynote speakers were Atakan Guven of Space Syntax Ltd and Omer Cavusoglu of London School of Economics and Political Science.

Atakan Guven analysed planning practice in Ankara and Istanbul since the late-Ottoman era and suggested a strong correlation between ‘western inspired’ nation-building and urban planning of these two major cities. Guven added that the ‘turkification’ policies and some political turning points affected Istanbul’s urban planning.

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Omer Cavusoglu examined the recent developments regarding Istanbul’s regeneration project. He suggested that the change of some legislations and new laws enabled the construction companies to make profit whilst dismissing the environmental concerns of the city. He pointed out the extensive powers the politicians have in deciding the future of the city, and how the demands of the local communities have been ignored by officials in this process.

The presentation was followed by a Q&A. The questions focused on the positive and negative reactions by the locals of Istanbul and the current government’s approach towards ‘modernization’ of the city.

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